Unesco Prize

A Ghanaian literacy and business skills empowerment foundation has been adjudged winner of the 2020 edition of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Confucius Prize for Literacy award.

The Foundation, “Just Commit Foundation” (JCF), a non-profit organization, emerged winner of the internationally recognised award for empowering children and youth across the country through literacy training, and equipping both youth and adults with innovative and sustainable business and entrepreneurship skills.

Mr Janix Asare, the Executive Director of the Foundation was presented with a medal, certificate and a cash prize of US$20,000 to be paid directly from the Headquarters of UNESCO, at a short ceremony held in Accra, on Thursday.

In a speech, Mr Asare said the Foundation, since 2017 had empowered over 500 beneficiaries from basic and high schools, such as teachers through its “Inspirational Business Stories” programme, with incorporated subjects such as reading, creative writing, comprehension, grammar and Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), among others.

He said the Foundation hoped to reach more beneficiaries in the coming years to equip them with employable skills that would help them make a living.

Mr Asare added that in the next five to 10 years, it also planned to make available business stories books and short videos to libraries and schools, both on and offline, to an estimated 10,000 children and youth across the country and Africa, to promote literacy on the continent.

In a statement, Ms Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General (DG) of UNESCO, said about 1.4 billion people globally faced literacy challenge and deficiency with 617 million young people, not mastering basic literacy and numeracy skills despite many of them being in school, while 773 million illiterate adults were also left behind.

Ms Azoulay said there was, therefore, the need to scale up efforts, especially at a time the COVID-19 pandemic had created educational crises to address the situation and to solidify gains made in recent decades.

Ms Azoulay called for more empowerment of teachers through continuous training and support to enable them to address inequality gap such as age, gender and specific vulnerabilities.

“This support must continue throughout their practice to enable them to develop and adapt in all circumstances – particularly in the face of upheavals such as school closures,” she said.

Mr Abdourahamane Diallo, UNESCO Country Director, said the ability to read and write with comprehension was important to successful life career.

He reiterated the need for teachers to be empowered and supported, adding that, that would enable them to equip learners with the requisite literacy skills.

Mr Diallo commended the Foundation and urged it, individuals and organizations to collaborate to scale up innovative efforts to enhance the national and global strive to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Four.

Mr Benjamin Gyasi, Chief Director, Ministry of Education applauded UNESCO and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for their continued support to education in the country and the world.

He urged stakeholders to continue to support programmes initiated by the Ministry to improve literacy education in the country and facilitate efforts at achieving SDG Four.

Mr Hayford Siaw, Executive Director, Ghana Library Authority said the Authority in the past few years had promoted literacy activities through various initiatives such as the National Short Writing Challenge, National Reading Festivals, Personality Readings, among others.

He called for stakeholders’ support to enable it reached every part of the country to enhance literacy amongst the citizenry.

The UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy was instituted in 2005, to give special considerations to literacy amongst adults in rural areas and out-of-school youth, particularly girls and women.

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